Kukje Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition of Ha Chong-Hyun, one of the leading members of Dansaekhwa. This exhibition provides a valuable opportunity to experience an important artist whose work has challenged the traditional definition of painting and opened a new vital chapter in Korean abstract art. On view in both K1 and K2, this exhibition showcases both the artist’s signature work as well as new paintings made specifically for this occasion.
Beginning with his Conjunction series in 1974, Ha Chong-Hyun has continually experimented with ways of utilizing both sides of the canvas. In particular, Ha is known for his unconventional method of pushing paint from the verso of the canvas. The artist refers to this technique as bae-ap-bub, and it illustrates his defiant attitude towards pre-existing modes of paintings where there is a strictly delineated front of the picture. Ha uses burlap instead of traditional canvas—a non-artistic and non-traditional material—because of its connection to the widely used grain sacks employed by USAID to send food aid following the Korean War. This material choice is a foundational element of Ha’s unique matière technique and connects his paintings to the difficult period in Korean history that he experienced as a young adult.
In his recent work Ha has expanded upon his practice of transforming three-dimensionality into a two-dimensional surface by experimenting with new ways to add materiality and sense of volume to color. A noteworthy component of his new work shown in this exhibition is the way ‘smoke’ has become part of Ha’s palette. When a work is exposed to heavy char smoke, the soot naturally attaches to the painted surface and the resulting work reveals new colors with distinctive shades. Ha utilizes the way this naturally occurring color blends with the burlap, and this process of modifying the material with his own artistic language is a critical aspect of his art practice.
Ha Chong-Hyun has lived and worked in Seoul since graduating from Hongik University in 1959. He served as the Dean of the Fine Arts College at Hongik University from 1990 to 1994 and was the Director of the Seoul Museum of Art from 2001 to 2006. He has had major solo exhibitions at Espace Paul Ricard, Paris (1999); Fondazione Mudima, Milan (2003); and Gyeongnam Art Museum, Changwon, South Korea (2004). In addition, Ha has represented South Korea in major international art exhibitions such as Paris Biennale in 1961; São Paolo Art Biennale in 1967 and 1977; Venice Biennale in 1995; and Prague Biennale in 2009. His recent exhibitions include a major retrospective at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea, Gwacheon (2012) and a solo exhibition at Blum and Poe Gallery, New York (2014). His works are held in public collections of prominent institutions, such as Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Art Institute of Chicago; M+ Museum, Hong Kong; National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea; and Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul.